January 3, 2012

Meet Claire

"There's nothing that says 'Merry Christmas' like your water breaking on your parents' nice furniture." That was the text I sent to a few friends on my way to the hospital on Christmas Day.

Let me back up a little . . .

For the week before Christmas, I told people that I had been so anxious for Claire to come, but now that Christmas was so close, I just wanted her to hold off until after Christmas morning. I just didn't want to miss out on having that time with the boys. And she listened to her Mama!

Our Christmas morning was perfect. The boys woke us up at 6:30. We tried to have them cuddle with us in bed for a while in order to get just a few more minutes of sleep, but that was useless. I mean, it was Christmas morning and they had already seen the silhouettes of their new bikes leaning against the Christmas tree.

We decided to not go to church so that we could just spend the morning together, let them play with their gifts and not have to rush. The each got a new bike from Santa, and then a few miscellaneous gifts from us. Kyle made breakfast and we just let them play while we relaxed the entire morning. I folded a basket or two of laundry, but for the most part, we just kind of let things go and didn't worry about any sort of organization or order. I even commented to Kyle that it was one of the best Christmas mornings I could remember.

As we were packing up to go to my parents, I told Kyle not to worry about picking anything up. He had to be back early Monday morning and I told him that the boys and I would work on organizing when we got home. As we were packing our stuff, I threw the pile of clothes that I had started putting together "for the hospital" into our suitcase and commented to him to grab the boppy. We both kind of laughed and I rolled my eyes at the thought that in the 18 hours we'd be gone, 4 days before my due date, that I'd need them. We didn't bring any of Claire's things or the car seat because that just seemed silly. I hadn't officially packed for the hospital yet, so I really didn't have much together anyway.

Here's how the next 48 hours went:

11:30 AM We left for my parents house. We listened to Christmas music on the way to my parents house and both boys were so sleepy. Ben fell asleep about 10 minutes before we got to their house. We tried to transfer him to a bed in their house, but he woke up as soon as we got him out of the car.

1:00 The first thing we did upon arrival was to eat lunch. Everyone could tell I was hungry because I kept commenting on how amazing the simple turkey sandwich was.

2:00 We exchanged gifts. The boys got some really neat toys and were consumed with those almost immediately.

3:00 My brother, Jeff, and Jack were in the living room putting lego cars together and Ben was in the family room playing with his new train set. Claire was just kicking away and I commented on how nice it was because she had been so quiet the last week or so. I made a trip to triage exactly a week before that because her movement had slowed so much. But she was happy and healthy! The nurse said she was a picture of fetal health. That was reassuring, but feeling her move was even more reassuring.

3:15 I moved upstairs to the living room to see what Jack and Jeff were doing and sat down. My mom brought a gift for Claire down. She said she had intended to save it for the hospital, but was just going to give it to me now so that I wouldn't have to worry about packing it up and taking it home with me then. I looked through the cute clothes and snowsuits. I started putting them back in the bag and felt some sharp cramps really low.

3:30 My mom walked back to the kitchen. I sat back to relax and laughed at something Jack said . . . and the floodgates opened. I jumped up and ran/galloped to the bathroom trying to leave as little of a trail as possible.

My mom asked what was going on and I said, "Either I wet my pants or my water just broke." After the episode when I was pregnant with Ben, I really thought I had probably just wet my pants and was SUPER embarrassed to the point of tears. Kyle asked what I needed and I said, "A pair of pants, underwear and a little bit of dignity." I was laughing and crying all at the same time. I put the new pants on (yoga pants . . . the only other pair I had with me), stood up, and knew immediately that I had not wet my pants.

My water had broken.

I just looked at Kyle and felt a little bit frozen. I was shocked. I searched for the number for triage. I had been thinking that week that I needed to get it programmed into my phone, but thought I had time for that. My mom looked up the number for me, I called and then waited for the call back. I felt nauseous, nervous and excited all at once.

My sister had gone up to take a nap after we opened gifts, so I went up and said, "Uh, my water broke, so we're leaving. Merry Christmas."

Leaving for the hospital
After my water broke - before we left for the hospital - 39 1/2 weeks

Leaving for the hospital
Our last photo as a family of four - doesn't Jack look thrilled?

4:00 We started for the hospital in my parents car (so they could keep ours with the car seats for the boys) before the triage nurse even called back. But when she did she instructed us to come right in.

4:30 We got there and the labor and delivery floor was EMPTY. There were only nine other laboring women that day. No one schedules induction or c-sections for Christmas, after all.

5:30 We were moved from triage into a room. That's when the waiting began.

6:00 I was having contractions, but nothing painful or productive. Kyle and I roamed the halls of the 9th floor several times. I didn't have any socks or slippers with me, so I was wearing my hospital gown and a pair of gray flats. It was super classy. The hospital opened on December 4 so everything was new to us. It was kind of fun to explore and look around, but it did nothing to help with contractions. The doctor offered pictocin to get things moving, but I really thought that maybe things would pick up on their own. We went back to the room and watched some tv. Kyle watched football because I wasn't really interested in anything that was on.

7:00 Shift change. Our new nurse (Renee) said she had two patients, and she was pretty sure she'd be sticking with me since she thought I'd probably go into hard labor sooner than her other.

9:00 Renee came to tell me I'd be getting a new nurse since her other patient was in hard labor. I was bummed because she was so great. Our new nurse (Kim) enters the picture and is great, too. Relief. You never know how happy or helpful the staff will be when they have to work on Christmas day.

12:00 AM The doctor checked in and I told her we could go ahead and start the pitocin, much to my dismay. I finished the book I was reading (The Help).

12:30 Kim starts the pitocin and I just sit and wait. I couldn't sleep, but Kyle didn't have much trouble.

12:45 I hear the baby crying from the lady who's water broke around the same time I did. Awesome.

3:30 Contractions became painful. The nurse asked if I was ready for an epidural, but I didn't think I needed one yet. Kyle was still sleeping. I probably should have woken him up, but I figured one of us should get some sleep, right?

4:58 I texted my mom and said contractions were 3 - 4 minutes apart, but still bearable.

6:00ish I woke Kyle up, called the nurse and said I was ready for an epidural. I was dilated to 6 and it was time. The anesthesiologist was in my room within what seemed like seconds. Like I said, the floor was pretty empty that night. The difference between this epidural and the one with Ben was that with Ben, I was between an 8 and a 9 when I got to the hospital. At that point, I was in so much pain and had no breaks between contractions, so I wasn't even aware of what they were doing to give me the epidural. This time around, the contractions were painful, but I had about two minutes between each one and was keenly aware of the pressure and pricks in my pack. It made me nervous and nauseous just thinking about it.

6:30ish Euphoria. The epidural was glorious. I actually was able to rest a little bit.
It was at this point that we finally decided on her middle name.

7:30 The doctor checked me and I was dilated completely. I had zero urge to push though. I wanted to wait a bit.

8:00ish I felt like I was ready to push. One problem . . . Kyle had gone to find a bathroom. In that big, new hospital, they were hard to find. I texted him to tell him that I was ready to push and he got back pretty quick. The doctors were all there and I started pushing at about 8:15. Pushing was quick, but it was a lot harder than I remember it being with Ben. A week later, my muscles are still sore from it.

8:22 Claire Grace Luke entered the world. I was overflowing with emotion and couldn't believe what a beautiful mess she was. They wrapped her in a blanket and gave her right to me and I just cried and cried. As they were cleaning her up, I asked, "She is a girl right?!" And they confirmed that she in fact, is a girl.

Brand new

Brand new

I was overwhelmed with emotion . . . just like I was when the boys were born. We couldn't believe we had a daughter. I couldn't believe that I ever wanted a boy, because she was so perfectly ours.

She cried and cried and cried for the next hour or so. They had guessed that she was 9 pounds, 9 ounces, but she was only 8 pounds, 13 ounces and 21 inches. To us, she was a petite little thing. I nursed her soon after she was born, and she'd nurse for a minute and then cry for a minute. Her lower lip would stick out (much like Ben's) and would quiver as she sobbed. If she had been my first, I probably would have been a little overwhelmed by it, but by this point, we know how to soothe crying babies and we did eventually.

When the nurse took her to bathe her, I just remember being SO tired. I hadn't slept much on Christmas eve or at all that night and the whole childbirth thing just sucked every bit of energy right out of me. But I didn't want to fall asleep and miss anything.

First bath
Claire's first bath . . . water running over her head was the only time she stopped crying. Doesn't it look like she was trying to steal the nurse's pager?

Brand new

Our parents, my siblings and the boys all came up to meet her that morning. The boys were pretty comfortable around her and each held her. Ben even climbed up into bed with me for a minute, though Jack wouldn't. He was a little freaked out by my IV port. Both boys cried a lot when they left, which was hard on us, but we know it had more to do with all of the change that was going on than anything else.

Big brothers

That afternoon and evening, Kyle and I just took turns holding her and staring at her. She didn't open her eyes much that first day, except for about 10 minutes that evening. She looked back and forth at each of us and we told her how much she was loved. We just marveled over her. It was one of my all time favorite moments.

Brand new

There were so many things on my mind and heart when we were at the hospital . . . things that aren't necessarily blog-suitable, but that left me overflowing with emotion. I'll never forget how much time I spent praying that night. The nurses kept asking me if I was okay, and I kept assuring them that I was fine . . . just emotional.

Ready to go home

We were in the hospital until the following morning and were home in the early afternoon on the 27th. We stopped by Target to pick up my pain medication. She didn't make a peep for the entire drive home or the trip to Target.

The last week has been challenging, for sure. I've had some healing issues and for various reasons, my emotions have been off-kilter far more than they ever were with the boys. But we're adjusting and we're blessed. I'm so thankful.


Melanie Eccles said...

thanks for sharing your story, Sara. It's beautiful.

Jeni said...

Congratulations, she is adorable!

Grace said...

Finally!! A girl! Congrats, and she is beautiful!
WOW! A girl! On our way home from Christmas, it was a unanimous conclusion, that all the Archers think it would have been better to be born on Christmas. We are all thankful that she's here!!!

Unknown said...

Sara, I loved reading your wonderful story of Clair's birth. Thanks for sharing your incredible story. She is such a beautiful baby. Blessings to both you and Kyle. Our prayers are with you and the whole family as you continue your wonderful journey as parents. Love, the Husteds

Amy said...

You just made me cry a little.